Taking excursions to see the world is a dream for many. Travelling the world and visiting sacred sites, as a spiritual artist, is the dream of Merina Rael; one she's been living for the past few years.
"It's quite exciting," Merina says, "I'm 63, and it's a challenge - stepping out, going into the unknown, travelling alone - but I'm following my dream, and I feel blessed to be able to do that."
Merina has toured many parts of the world, including New York, Greece, Mexico, South America, and her next adventure in October of this year will take her to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"It's the heart of the South West and this trip will be an inspirational art tour," she says. "I'm going to lead a group of people through the famous and colourful art galleries of Santa Fe. We'll visit Georgia O'Keefe's Museum and Gallery. It's a very sacred place - with the red earth and mountains â€“ we're going to paint at sundown; it will be very enlightening. It will be like going to paint where Emily Carr was inspired and painted in the woods."
Merina has always followed her calling of being an artist: painter, poet, photographer and jeweller. Being artistic has been the consistent driving force since she was very young. It's guided her to follow her heart and live life to the fullest.
While following her path, Merina encountered a couple of uncanny events, which helped inspire her way of life. "I saw a lady die on the street - it was very traumatic. I was in a grocery store and there was a lady in front of me. She walked out of the store and 50 seconds later I heard a bam! I walked out and I saw her lying in a pool of blood - I was shocked and stunned. A drunk driver had mowed down a bunch of people. That could have been me. And now, everyday, I live my life like there ain't any more. What a gift - ever since then it's like - get on with it, live now, you never know what's coming tomorrow. As you can see, I don't sit down very much, even though my inner voice says, 'Slow down!'"
And Merina certainly doesn't slow down â€“ she's been on the go for a long time. According to her, she has a lot of work yet to do, and she wants to share it and her ideas with as much of the world as possible.
"I want to show others how to follow their passion; follow their dreams. I do that - I teach creative art classes one-on-one, and I get people going; I get them finding their passion. I take them on a little journey. They have to be willing to step up, to search, to not give up, to find out where their passion lies, and then just do it!"
Merina has had 20 art shows in as many years, written a poetry book, made short films and won awards.
After Santa Fe, there are other parts of the world calling her; Thailand is on the list for February, New Zealand and Australia are not far behind. Perhaps there will even be a stint on another cruise ship. But she'll check with her pendulum to make sure it's a good time to travel.
Dowsing with a pendulum is the process of using a tool as an alternative communication device to aid discovery or answer questions that might not be as easy to do using the senses. Although no one really knows how or why it works, it's said that the movement of the pendulum is controlled by the users' subconscious. Regardless, Merina's beautiful crystal pendulum from Peru guided her when she was setting her itinerary for Greece; two weeks after her return, the cruise ship she had travelled on sunk - two people died.
But listening to her intuition, her pendulum, or whatever guides her, has brought her a long way. Originally born in New York, Merina married a young Texan who was drafted into the army. And when the call to Vietnam came, the couple knew they had to leave the U.S., so they moved to Sweden. After a few wonderful years there, Canada beckoned. This has been her home ever since.
She's always kept busy: organizing fashion shows at the Empress Hotel, taking figure drawing classes at Emily Carr and working part-time, as well as raising her children and foster children. Divorced in 1981, she's ecstatic to have all her children and three grandchildren close by in Victoria - the main reason she continues living here now.
"I'm in heaven on earth here in the spring and summer, but gosh in the fall, I'm ready to go to the sun! But I'm very committed to my work - maybe soon I will retire; I only have a few years to go," she laughs.
But it's not all work.
"Coffee is good; I try to go to the gym, or I walk. I try to stay focused on my goals. I want to get another short film together, and I've been asked to talk at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre in October about my travels to Peru. I travel to the sacred sites and I receive visions of the energies there and then paint them. Then I give talks and share my films on how creativity can heal."
"I feel very blessed," she says. "Everything I do is to honour the Divine Feminine and bring balance into place. Another thing I love to do is to help people bring closure when they've lost a loved one. I want to help people step back into their lives - let them clear up their pain."
Merina's "to do" list is long and inspiring: more filmmaking, another book idea is percolating, her own artwork, of course, photography and the desire to reach out to help and empower everyone she can.
For more information about Merina's upcoming art tour to Santa Fe, or to contact her directly, www.raelstudios.com
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